Talk:Joan Didion

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WikiProject iconJoan Didion has been listed as a level-5 vital article in People (Writers). If you can improve it, please do.
BThis article has been rated as B-class on Wikipedia's content assessment scale.

Initial comments[edit]

Is there any more frivolous and useless way of describing an author than as a "prose stylist"? What the fuck does that mean, anyway? How about we just say that she is "renowned as a journalist," essayist, and novelist? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:00, 29 April 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Just change it as you see fit. Seems reasonable to me. If people object, they will say so. 17:26, Apr 29, 2005 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Moncrief (talkcontribs)

A PORSE STYLIST IS ONE WHO SKILFULLY AND ARTISTECALLY STYLES THE PROSE yA HEARD — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:52, 29 May 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That's what reviewers call her==prose stylist--because her style is what matters the most and is most noticeable. Also because her prose encompases essays, book-length essays, book-length reports, reporting, political reporting, book reviews, novels, literary and art criticism and screenplays. More than a "journalist, essayist and novelist." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:33, 31 August 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Every good writer is a "prose stylist". That is not a career or a job, that is a quality. I prefer something as "renowned as journalist, essayist and novelist. Well known for her mastered prose' style" or something like that.

I don't think that her prose is "what matter the most". The endless discution of form and content. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:40, 24 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

And likewise 'journalist, essayist and novelist' merely describe a person undertaking a mode of writing, but fail to describe what that writing is like. Reviewers and critics have talked about Joan Didion's style for decades. It is unlike anything else. Would you insist on refering to Italo Calvino in an entry as a novelist as a means of orderly nomenclature? Jackie Collins is also a novelist. I would prefer seeing an entry that called Calvino a narrative avatar rather than novelist, because it would be a more incisive description of what he does.

Isn't this really a question of metonymy? You're objecting to a description of the writing standing in for the "job" of the writing. Too familiar a construction?

Come to think of it, prose stylist doesn't do Joan Didion justice. She's a prose couturier. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:09, 5 December 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

These are the thing that happen when those who do not understand what art of literary criticism about edit articles about authours. There should be detailed analysis how Didion uses language in her works to create the desired effect of the piece, although a discusion of themes, favorite literary devices of allusions, etc. Since I am not a Didion reader, I cannot do this myself, but I encourage a Didion lover who has read a good piece of her oeuvre (which is quite massive) to give such details. --chemica 02:49, 19 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think the article, as it stands, is a start. It should have the roundness and fullness of articles for major twentieth century American writers, such as Mailer, Capote, Bellow, etc. To begin to do so, one would have to include more detailed descriptions of the novels, which are important in Didion's overall oeuvre. The recurrent themes, stylistic devices, and primary achievements should be noted. The article needs--one is tempted to say--the grandeur of those articles on important figures in contemporary writing. This current listing is a start, but it moves book by book with very little attempt to generalize and make concrete what distinguishes Didion as an outstanding writer and prose stylist. 22 Nov 2006 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:35, 23 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Comment by[edit]

OMG, this is the stupidest attempt to sum up a worthy life I've ever come across on Wikipedia. Yes, I know you'll delete this, but if you must please have the decency to either write a more accurate biography, or delete the whole entry altogether. I mean, please.

Really. Please. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 09:20, 9 August 2007 (UTC)}}Reply[reply]

Comment by Nbirnbach[edit]

Perhaps the discussion about "prose stylist" has ended. But there is a difference between writing and being a prose stylist. Lots of people write, but not every writer is stylist, someone admired for his or her use of language. The difference goes beyond literary works and pop culture works. Even among literary writers, Didion stands out for use of language. According to a 1979 New York Times review of Didion's book, "The White Album," reviewer Michiko Kakutani wrote, "Novelist and poet James Dickey has called Didion 'the finest woman prose stylist writing in English today.'" That should pretty much conclude this debate.Nbirnbach 21:31, 13 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Comment by Terriblefish[edit]

Aside from outright vandalism, this sentence, from the first paragraph, is the worst I've ever read on WP:

According to a 1979 New York Times review of Didion's book, "The White Album," reviewer Michiko Kakutani wrote, "Novelist and poet James Dickey has called Didion 'the finest woman prose stylist writing in English today.'"[1]

What is the point of quoting one writer (Kakutani) quoting another writer (Dickey) on Didion? Furthermore, the quote from 1979 is discussing prose writing "today," and that was 30 years ago. Perhaps it's lost its relevance?--Terriblefish (talk) 05:06, 11 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wikipedia should give laurels for entries like this[edit]

I actually want to thank whoever wrote this entry (although parts do sound a bit like a committee went at it with random keystrokes). This entry has been of great value to my Freshmen composition students. All I have to do is project this entry onto the wall and say "Ok, have at it...what's wrong with this entry?"

From beginning to end, a totally indefensible piece of rubbish. It probably wouldn't be such a scandal except that the subject is such a fine writer. Probably a lovely do-over involving several syphilitic monkeys, a bottle of Scotch, and a keyboard with several missing letters would turn out something more literate than this abortion. That being said, I will probably have a go at some point. Didion isn't someone I know terribly well but I would do just as well to use the prose on the side of a box of Froot Loops as my source material.

I am sincere about the value of the entry as a learning opportunity for young writers. So for that reason alone, I am tempted to leave it as it is. Jackbox1971 (talk) 02:44, 7 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Please do try to improve the entry. Given the subtle, almost Didionesque brilliance of your own writing (an ironic reversal at the end of the first paragraph- how daring! syphilitic monkeys- such wit!), you're sure to do quite well. Don't let your obvious modesty stand in the way of proving your own worth to your students, who I'm sure appreciate your dazzling commentary as much as I do. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:42, 7 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sarcasm is among the lower forms of wit. Slightly above the pun but gaining ground on the "knock-knock" joke. So tuck in. But I will say that this exchange is a damn-sight more coherent than the front matter of this article. We won't speak of the relative merits of signing one's comments on what amounts to a graffito bridge. Jackbox1971 (talk) 02:23, 10 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Aside from photographing Didion for the article, I haven't touched it nor read it (though I've read several of her books). I actually liked your post for its prose (I'm being sincere) although monkeys with syphilis might have been over-reaching. But regarding your response to the IP, you started out your post with sarcasm, and your post drips with it, so it seems strange you would knock when someone replies in kind. --David Shankbone 03:17, 10 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Do you throw the talk page of this article up to present to them the quintessence of civility and kindness your post represents? Protonk (talk) 03:33, 10 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Some of the worst, modified[edit]

I agree this is a pretty dismal entry for one of America's finest living writers. I've tried to ameliorate some of the horrors, but it's still pretty bad. Feel free to edit it more! Thattherepaul (talk) 14:22, 30 November 2008 (UTC)thattherepaulReply[reply]

Quintana Roo[edit]

Can we take out the quote making fun of Didion for naming her daughter Quintana Roo? It seems quite distasteful when you consider that said daughter died young while her mother was still living. No? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:59, 27 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Our Plan[edit]
Our group has come up with the following plan to edit and improve this Wikipedia page for Joan Didion. We are hoping to take this article from starting level up to at least B-Class level. Currently, the page has little information, is very unorganized, and is lacking credible references, therefore, our main goal is to address these issues. Below is what our projected outline of the page will look like. Any help with sources or other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.(4/1/09)

Joan Didion updated Wikipedia page plan:

1. Biography

1.1 - Early Childhood
1.2 - Schooling
1.3 - Adult Life

2. Publications

2.1 - Fiction
2.2 - Nonfiction
2.3 - Drama
2.4 - Screenplays

3. Didion as a writer

3.1 - Writing Style and Themes
3.2 - New Journalism

4. Awards and Recognitions

5. References —Preceding unsigned comment added by ChristinaD English4994 (talkcontribs) 17:54, 1 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Good job Didion group. I moved your plan to the bottom of the talk page. The most recent contributions to the talk page go at the bottom. You might think, too, about the "lead" for this article. And keep paying attention to the guidelines for biographies of living persons. Looking forward to seeing how it develops. AEG English4994 (talk) 14:49, 2 April 2009 (UTC)AEG English 4994Reply[reply]


I fixed some issues with the article but I don't have time right now to read the whole article and check against the B Class criteria, though it looks good. From what I read I can tell it's substantial, so I reassess to C for now. The article is still listed at the Biography Assessment page so someone else can read the article and possibly assess higher, or perhaps I will when I have more time. All the best Hekerui (talk) 01:32, 11 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dominick Dunne[edit]

Why is there no mention of Dominick Dunne here? Unfree (talk) 19:42, 2 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Caitlin Flanagan's Atlantic article[edit]

People wishing to improve this article should turn to Caitlin Flanagan's typically fine article in praise of Didion in this month's Atlantic Monthly, Jan/Feb 2012. The strongest piece about Didion's flaws is still probably Barbara Grizzutti Harrison's 1980 piece, Profhum (talk) 07:08, 12 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

More characteristic photo of Didion needed[edit]

It rarely matters much what an author looked like in her prime, but in this case it does. Didion, much like Ernest Hemingway, came to fame personifying a generational ideal of intelligence, style and glamour. Wiki's Hemingway article quite appropriately shows Hemingway at 39, in his prime, not the fat old drunk who killed himself at 61. The Didion article should emulate the Hemingway article, not show Didion in her Seventies. Our goal is giving someone who has just encountered Didion's name and who turns to us for information, some sense of what Didion's image was in twentieth century American letters. That reader will much better understand the way her audience, and both positive and negative critics, responded to her. Profhum (talk) 07:27, 12 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Agreed. Given the number of wonderful photos of Didion (and how much her "look" does embody her life and work), why does WP use the one where she looks like she is about to fall over and die? I'm not saying we have to use a photo of young Didion, but it would be nice to use any photo of Didion that better resembles her (rather than something that looks more appropriate on the front page of a tabloid). (talk) 21:22, 4 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree too. And not just about Didion. Wikipedia has a tendency to show the most recent picture, even of people who are mainly famous for things they did decades ago. Show the person in her prime, please. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:06, 6 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • More to the point, Wikipedia uses pictures that are either free-licensed or in the public domain. If there is a good free-licensed or PD image, then of course we prefer that, but as a matter of policy even a mediocre free-licensed or PD image is preferred to one that is used on a strictly fair use basis. - Jmabel | Talk 02:26, 24 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Comment by Alex[edit]

Joan Didion is perhaps the most widely known creative nonfiction writer. Why are her many nonfiction accomplishments lumped into "literary journalism"? The Year of Magical Thinking, Where I Was From, Blue Nights, and her many essays are NOT "literary journalism"--they are creative nonfiction. This article should be updated to accurately reflect her immense contribution to the genre of creative nonfiction, and should not confuse that genre with literary journalism. (talk) 18:35, 28 June 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

At the peak of Didion's career,[edit]

WTF? She seems to be coming into a peak in the last few years in her 80s. Eh? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Anonymoususer2018999 (talkcontribs) 02:01, 24 July 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Naming daughter in infobox[edit]

I added Quintana Roo Dunne to the infobox with summary even if not capital-N Notable, daughter is "particularly relevant" as discussed in Template:Infobox documentation, having been featured extensively in Didion's writing. Clear Looking Glass removed without explanation; I restored requesting one; and Edwardx provided one: Children are not named in the infobox unless independently notable, number is sufficient. See Template:Infobox person.

Edwardx and I are citing the same template documentation for opposite conclusions, so one of us must be misreading it. I read only list names of independently notable or particularly relevant children (emphasis added) as allowing not-independently-notable children to be listed if they're relevant to the subject's article. In this case, Quintana clearly is. Didion wrote two books about her, and she's mentioned seven times in the article and is the subject of a paragraph in § Personal life (to which Quintana Roo Dunne redirects). Anecdotally, she's a sufficiently well-known part of Didion's life that I knew her name without having read any of Didion's work, and, no joke, my mother contacted me to ask why she wasn't mentioned in the infobox.

Am I missing something here? This seems like the exact situation that "or particularly relevant" is intended for. -- Tamzin[cetacean needed] (she/they) 20:31, 23 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As there's been no response, I've restored her daughter's name with a hidden comment explaining the rationale and pointing to talk. I welcome further discussion. -- Tamzin[cetacean needed] (she/they) 21:02, 24 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Tamzin: - I removed the name of her daughter assuming that she didn't seem relevant or notable for the Wiki (I'm aware of her being mentioned in her mothers work), but I guess I was wrong judging from your argument and the infobox instructions. Clear Looking Glass (talk) 12:00, 7 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Charter Day Speech[edit]

  • Freshman editors of the Daily Californian staff, Didion seated second from left. 1953 Blue and Gold.
  • "The calendar had just turned over to 1960 when an upscale women’s magazine. Ma demoiselle, featured the first published article by a new writer—Berkeley alumna (class of 1956) and former Daily Californian staff writer Joan Didion. Titled “Berkeley’s Giant: The University of California,” it is a sometimes breezy but fact-filled portrait, tailored for the young woman’s point of view, exploring the prevailing ethos and lifestyles of the campus."
  • Joan Didion, “Berkeley’s Giant: The University of California” Mademoiselle, January 1960

0mtwb9gd5wx (talk) 03:10, 24 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Joan Didion deserves a better photo[edit]

Capture her essence when she crafted the words we needed to read. 2600:1700:F670:43A0:8935:15DD:BDA:5C2B (talk) 00:10, 4 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wikipedia’s policy on non-free content criteria requires an image with a free licence to be used wherever possible. This image will not be changed until another free image becomes available. Pawnkingthree (talk) 12:24, 4 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]